Dotted throughout the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean are islands of volcanic origin that were never connected to continental landmasses. Volcanic activity has shaped the dramatic features of Cape Verde, Canary Islands and Azores, which are renowned for their exceptional biodiversity. Experience extraordinary birdlife, revel in the striking coastal and mountain scenery while on hikes, be prepared for encounters with elegant marine wildlife in their natural habitat, and hear stories of the fascinating history of the local people and their culture with its rich African and European heritage.
In true expedition style we encourage exploration and adventure, offering flexibility in challenging environments in a way that puts you among the action to see and do as much as possible. This itinerary is only a guide and subject to change due to ice and weather conditions.
Having made your way to Lisbon, you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. Upon arrival at your included hotel, please visit the Aurora Expeditions hospitality desk to collect your luggage cabin tags and to speak with our ground operations team, who may have information to share with you about pre-embarkation or to provide you with information about where to dine, withdraw cash or purchase last minute items from a local pharmacy or supermarket.
The remainder of your time is at leisure. All meals today are at your own expense.
Accommodation: Marriott Hotel Lisbon
We start early today, with a transfer to Lisbon airport. Check-out, collect your breakfast box and board your transfer coach. Please ensure your luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Any valuables or personal items should be placed in your hand luggage.
Upon arrival at Lisbon airport, we complete check-in and passport control, and proceed to board our TAP Portugal flight, TP1545, departing Lisbon at 09:20am.
After arriving in Praia at 11:40am, if time allows, we enjoy some of Praia’s main sites, including a visit to the old town of Cidade Velha, the former capital of Cape Verde and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The views of the town from the fortifications of Forte Real de São Filipe are sublime. In town, we might visit Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário, a church dating back to 1495, which was visited by explorers Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus who stopped in Praia soon after the church was built. A marble whipping post in the town square is a bleak reminder of the many people who were brought to Cape Verde from mainland Africa to be traded as slaves.
Transfer to the port for embarkation and settle into your cabin before attending important safety briefings. Enjoy the thrill of departure as we ‘throw the lines’ and set sail.
This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and our friendly Expedition Team as we start our thrilling adventure.
Zodiacs shuttle us ashore at the port of São Filipe where we begin our exploration of Fogo Island, also known as the ‘black pearl’ of Cape Verde for its black volcanic sand. Wander the cobbled streets of São Filipe, a colourful Portuguese colonial town, exploring the vibrant market and local museum.
Leaving the charming town, we drive along serpentine roads that take us higher and higher towards the entrance to Parque Natural do Fogo, where the Fogo volcano is located. At 2,828 metres (9,281 feet), the volcano is the highest point in the Cape Verde Islands. Fogo Island is a single, massive active stratovolcano that last erupted in 2014. Fogo is Portuguese for ‘fire.’ The dramatic landscape of Fogo has been shaped by centuries of volcanic activity, leaving a landscape of collapsed calderas, lava fields and craters.
Boa Vista is the most easterly island in the archipelago. Marine turtles, extensive sand dunes and 55 kilometres (34 miles) of beaches, and traditional music, are the island’s main attractions. Between January and May, small pods of humpback whales visit Cape Verde to breed and give birth to live young, and Boa Vista is one of the best places to see them.
Sal Rei is the capital of Boa Vista Island. It is a quiet, sleepy town with its charming palm-filled main square, Praça da Santa, brimming with flowers and pavilions. The Santa Isabel church is located in the square and features the graves of the Jewish Ben’Oliel family, who fled persecution in Morocco in the 1800s. After exploring the town square, perhaps enjoy a stroll along the Avenida dos Pescadores (Fishermen’s Avenue), which runs along the waterfront or perhaps explore the old harbour and the boatyard.
In Santo Antão, we disembark at Porto Novo to begin our exploration of this mountainous island and its sensational landscapes. We drive north into the island’s steep mountainous interior cut by deep, rocky ravines and venture into verdant forests, stopping to view an old volcanic caldera, Cova de Paúl. We pass through small hamlets clinging to the sides of hills, where locals roast their own blend of coffee, filling the air with its distinct aroma.
Santo Antão’s ‘ribeiras’ – deep, narrow canyons with near-vertical walls – are one of the island’s most impressive features. Our exploration of the island includes a walk among lush farming valleys where breadfruit, bananas, papaya and sugar cane grow. You may also have a chance to taste grogue, Cape Verde’s national drink made from sugar cane.
As we sail north to the Canary Islands, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from our Expedition Team, who may presents talk on various ‘ologies’, including volcanic geology, marine biology or ornithology, and cultural geography. You may choose to spend your time editing photos of Cape Verde or simply enjoying the many wonderful facilities on the ship.
El Hierro is the smallest and most south westerly of the Canary Islands and is located below La Palma. The island is famous for its volcanic landscape, remarkable rock formations and diverse flora. The spectacular marine life attracts scuba divers and snorkellers from around the world. UNESCO has classified El Hierro Biosphere Reserve as part of the Man and the Biosphere Programme.
Departing from the tiny harbour town of La Estaca, we begin our ascent to El Hierro’s small, quiet capital, Valverde, meaning ‘the green valley’. Valverde is the only capital in the Canary Islands that is not located on the coast. Enjoy a walk through the town where no building is more than two storeys high and where there are no traffic lights. Perhaps stop to visit the beautiful 18th-century church Nuestra Señora de La Concepción.
Afterwards, we continue our climb and stop at Jinama lookout. At 1,300 metres (4,265 feet) above sea level, the view of El Golfo Valley is simply spectacular. On our descent, we drive to the small village of Frontera, passing lush valleys along the way where pineapple, banana, papaya and mango are grown.
El Hierro is home to the El Hierro giant lizard. With a broad head, dark, robust body and long tail, the indigenous giant lizard can measure up to 60 centimetres (24 inches) and has long been an emblem of El Hierro, where it lives on the island’s rocky, arid terrain. The giant lizard is close to extinction and is now protected by international law. The Centre for the Recovery of the El Hierro Giant Lizard, also known as Lagartario, is a research centre that studies the giant lizard and runs breeding programs to boost numbers. We visit the centre to see these enigmatic creatures and to learn about the conservation efforts to protect them.
At La Peña lookout, you have the opportunity to sample some local cheeses and wines while enjoying magnificent views of El Hierro’s north coast.
The island of La Gomera, shaped like a near-perfect circle, is the second smallest of the Canary Islands. San Sebastian, the capital of the island is a picturesque village and harbour. The town is best explored on foot. Enjoy an easy stroll along the main street of the Old Town, Calle Real, where the stunning church, Iglesia de la Virgen de la Asunción, is located. It was here that Columbus and his crew attended mass after loading his ships with supplies and water before setting sail for America. Today, the church is still used by crew to pray for safe passage before they depart on voyages. You will also have an opportunity to visit the church at the end of the day.
Today’s adventures will focus on the scenic north side of La Gomera Island and the beautiful national park, where you will learn about the local flora and fauna. Enjoy a short and easy guided walk through one of the oldest laurel forests in the world; a prehistoric ecosystem that has survived as a result of the island’s temperate climate. The area became a national park in 1981, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
Continue our drive to Hermigua, a beautiful, verdant valley known for its mild climate, water-filled ravines, and banana plantations. Here you can visit a handicraft centre and see displays of local pottery, utensils and looms, giving you an insight into how locals used to live. We continue our panoramic drive to the village of Agulo to visit the Juego de Bolas (Garajonay National Park Visitor Centre), which has outstanding exhibitions on the geology, climate, flora and fauna of the park. The ‘House of Memory’ has fascinating exhibits of traditional island culture including the interior of a rural house, farming equipment a cellar and traditional ceramics.
Back in town, you can visit Iglesia de la Virgen de la Asunción, as well as the 15th-century fortress Torre del Conde, and the La Gomera Archaeological Museum.
Our onboard lecture series continues with fascinating talks on the people, history and culture of the islands visited on our voyage as well as presentations on wildlife and geology. You may choose to spend your time keeping fit in the gym, or treating yourself to a massage in the wellness centre.
Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the archipelago of the Azores is where three continental plates meet. It is an area that attracts large numbers of whales and adventurous sailors. Dr Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue recognises the Azores archipelago as a Hope Spot and says, ‘The Azores archipelago is a magnet for life. It really is a magical place. Launching the Azores as Hope Spot is so logical – just ask the whales. They know how special this place is. This used to be a place where whales were killed, and now people are making a living by respecting the whales and having people come out and visit them as fellow citizens of the planet.’
Not only is the Azores archipelago a Mission Blue Hope Spot, many of its islands are recognised by UNESCO as places of universal value.
In 2009, Flores was classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The island offers a number of sublime walking trails where you can choose to follow the coastline or venture inland to see shimmering lakes of flooded volcanic calderas. There are countless waterfalls and birders can expect to see migratory species including waders, passerines, shearwaters and terns.
Flores also features some splendid Portuguese architecture including the 19th-century church Nossa Senhora da Conceição, and the Flores Museum.
The small and lush island of Graciosa awaits with adventures of a visit to Furna do Enxofre, where we descend by spiral staircase into a 100-metre (328-foot) deep cavern beneath the plug of a former volcano. This well-known volcanic feature still exudes fumes and has bubbling mud pools.
In 2007, Graciosa was classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The Azores are internationally recognised as a spectacular destination for birdwatching. The archipelago boasts approximately 30 breeding species, with the number of occasionally seen species already approaching 400, and Graciosa is home to a number of endemic species, including Monteiro’s storm petrel.
Graciosa offers wonderful walking trails including coastal hikes and a walk along the perimeter of the volcanic cone. Other popular activities offered on the island are excursions for whale watching and swimming with dolphins.
Terceira Island is renowned for its rich historical heritage. The city of Angra do Heroismo is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. A walking tour of Angro do Heroismo includes a visit to the small but stunning botanical gardens, the town’s main cathedral and the delightful town square. You may choose to visit Algar do Carvão, a volcanic cave showcasing magnificent stalactites and stalagmites of amorphous silica, where the upper walls are covered in ferns, mosses and liverworts.
The island offers superb birdwatching and is home to a colony of common terns and roseate terns nesting in a special protected area. It is also possible to spot waders from North America here. Excursions for whale watching and swimming with dolphins are also available on Terceira Island.
On arrival at Ponta Delgada we bid goodbye to our crew and expedition team and transfer to Ponta Delgada airport to board TAP Portugal, TP1860 departing at 10:45am. Our flight takes us to Lisbon, where we farewell our fellow expeditioners upon arrival at 2:00pm.
Important note: Aurora Expeditions operates in remote and challenging environments, and in the spirit of expedition travel, we encourage you to be flexible and to adopt an adventurous attitude when joining our voyages. This itinerary is a guide only and is subject to change due to weather, sea state and other conditions beyond our control.
Please note that on this voyage, Aurora Expeditions is required to partner with local tour operators for the included shore excursions and optional activities mentioned in the itinerary.
Lectures on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
From USD $470.00/pp
Sea Kayaking One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond. Sea kayaking holidays in the …
Sea kayaking holidays in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica, the Arctic, and some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, are guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, absorbing the majestic scenery as it unfolds before you.
In Antarctica, keep your camera on-hand for unforgettable encounters with penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, prepare to paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large iceberg.
Led by experienced guides, you and your small group of like-minded adventurers will paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Paddling is one of the best ways to access and intimately explore the beautiful coastlines we visit and therefore make the most of your time in the wild and remote destinations we visit.
‘Getting out amongst it’ is our philosophy, and that is exactly what we do. Weather permitting, the sea kayaking activity is normally available anytime the other expeditioners go out. Rather than travelling large distances, our aim is to ensure you see as much as possible. We paddle between 5 to 15 kilometres (2 to 4 hours) per outing, often taking a snack and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy on our excursion.
Each small group of kayakers (up to 10 per guide) will have their own intimate exploration of the small hidden bays and coasts that are inaccessible to Zodiacs. Of course, we also make time for your own shore excursions and wildlife encounters.
The elements play an important role in our sea kayaking program. It is important that you have an adventurous attitude and understand that the weather can impact our kayaking time.
For all of our trips, you must be active in the outdoors and have an adventurous spirit. The level of experience differs slightly depending on the region you are visiting.
For most temperate and polar you should be an intermediate paddler. In South Georgia however, conditions can be more varied and you require solid paddling experience in ocean swell and wind.
For our tropical trips some prior paddling experience is needed. We may encounter wind on these trips, however the water is fairly protected.
You do not need to be an expert or know how to roll. However, you must be able to swim and you should have experience in a wet exit and assisted re-entry. You should also be proficient at putting on a spray skirt by yourself and be comfortable paddling on seas with up to half a metre swell. It is also important that you gain some practice getting into a kayak from a pier, wharf, or deep shoreline where you can’t step into the kayak from standing position. You can easily practice all of this at home, plus paddling in a variety of weather conditions, before your trip.
Our guides do not offer instructional classes for beginners. Therefore, the sea kayaking option is unsuitable for complete novices. However, there is often ample time to gain the required experience before you depart. We may be able to recommend a reputable sea kayak operator in your area for some tuition prior to the trip.
Your guide will assess your ability on the initial paddle, and if you have insufficient experience, he or she reserves the right to restrict your participation in rougher conditions.
You should be fit enough to paddle for up to three hours and climb between moving Zodiacs on the water. Regular exercise is recommended, because the fitter you are the more you will enjoy the experience. The more paddles you can do before the trip, the better. We recommend at least three outings prior to your voyage.
During summer the air temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula, Greenland and Spitsbergen are generally above freezing but can range from -4°C to +5°C / 24.8°F to 41°F. The water temperature in the polar regions is close to freezing and winds sweep off the glaciers, making paddling a chilling experience. In South Georgia, there are stronger winds and swells than in Antarctica. Scotland, Iceland, Norwegian coasts are warmer with water temperatures of around 12 °C/ 53.6°F.
The northern waters are warmer than the polar regions but water temperatures of around 12 °C/ 53.6°F mean you may opt to wear your paddle jacket on a warm, sunny day or our dry suits on a cool day. Surf landings are not likely, but you must be capable of paddling in a small swell or wind chop, with winds up to 20 knots. With that being said, we will not paddle if wind conditions are too strong and there is no sheltered area for paddling.
In Costa Rica and Panama, April is the end of the dry season. The shoulder season begins in May, bringing increased humidity. Afternoon rain showers are possible in May with temperatures ranging from 26-36 °C (80- 96 °F). Winds are generally light at this time of year. The water temperature ranges from 27 -29 °C. Surf landings are not likely, but be prepared to paddle in a small swell or wind chop, with winds up to 15 knots. Again, we will not paddle if wind conditions are too strong and there is no sheltered area for paddling.
The Sea Kayaking activity is available for an additional surcharge and includes guided excursions and kayaking equipment. Fares for this activity start from US$900, AU$1,250, £460 or €550.
Prices are indicative only and are variable. They are calculated based on the days of voyage, ability to carry out the activity and exchange rates.
Kayaking is one of the best ways to spot rare wildlife, from penguins to puffins.
Access intimate bays and coves that bigger crafts can't reach.
Our experienced sea kayak guides will help bring your chosen destination to life.
Hone your kayaking skills and gain a hobby for life!
Become lifelong friends with your small group of like-minded adventurers.
Being active every day on your holiday means you don't have to feel guilty about being spoilt by our expert chefs!
Add another layer to your once-in-a-lifetime holiday and make the most out of your time in some of the most remote places on earth.
Have the time of your life exploring some of the wildest places on earth from the water.
Our guide to paddler ratio is 1:10 and we provide an accompanying safety Zodiac. There are 26 places available in Antarctica and tropical voyages, 20 in temperate regions, South Georgia and all Arctic trips except in Franz Josef Land where the maximum is 16 kayakers.
Kayakers must be 14 or over.
Sea kayaking is offered in place of regular shore excursions. We aim to paddle as often as possible. Depending on the voyage, we generally aim to paddle twice per day.
We will give you a drybag for extra clothing, binoculars and anything that needs to be kept dry. You should also carry a water bottle. We recommend bringing a waterproof camera or phone, or ensuring you have a good quality waterproof case.
If the weather changes during our outing we will head back to the ship and perhaps join a shore excursion. The ship’s captain, expedition leader and kayak guide always maintain close contact to ensure a safe paddling experience. We do not attempt to paddle too far away from the ship. The emphasis is on experiencing the destination rather than travelling long distances.
The kayaks are made with a hard plastic and are easily paddled in swell and conducting shore landings, and through small patches of brash ice. We manoeuvre around the larger ice chunks and floes.
Kayaking in the poles offers a unique wildlife viewing experience. In Antarctica, we have many opportunities to encounter penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally we may even spot leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, we’ll paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large icebergs, however we maintain a safe distance from polar bears and walruses. Our guides carry rifles and flare guns in the Arctic to ensure your safety against polar bears.
Kayakers in wild temperate regions will have a unique wildlife experience, with possible encounters with seals and basking sharks. You will have the opportunity to view some of the largest sea bird colonies in the northern hemisphere.
The superb wildlife-viewing opportunities are endless in the astonishingly biodiverse nature reserves we visit. Kayaks offer a unique opportunity to view marine and land mammals, coral reefs, tropical fish, sea birds and an astonishing range of rainforest birds. We will bring our snorkelling gear with us during our paddles and take advantage of any opportunities to view marine life up close.
In the unlikely event of a capsize, your experienced guide will assist by righting the kayak, stabilising it then pumping it out. Paddlers will re-enter with the guide’s help, or with a support Zodiac. With drysuits and warm clothing underneath you will be comfortable in cold water for up to half an hour. Note that the kayaks have separate compartments with bulkheads, which means they will float after a capsize.
No. Each kayaking place is for one person only. Passengers are unable to share a kayaking place as we customise the kayaks and dry suits for each individual kayaker at the beginning of each voyage.
Want to book flights and accommodation with us or simply want some additional information? Click the button below and fill out the form, our expedition experts are more than happy to help.
*Terms & Conditions apply. Valid on select ship voyages only. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle which must be booked and deposited by February 28, 2023. Promotion is subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with the back to back voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The promotion can be withdrawn at any time and is not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. To confirm your booking, a completed booking form and non-refundable deposit of $2,500 pp in the booking currency is required within 7 days of reserved berth/s. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Please see full terms and conditions.
^Terms & Conditions apply. Additional 5% discount valid on both voyages but two voyages must connect back to back in terms of dates to be eligible. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle. Promotions are subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with early bird voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The offer can be withdrawn at any time and are not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. Please see full terms and conditions.